Victor Osimhen produced an all-round masterclass to spearhead the Super Eagles to an excellent 4-2 win over the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Maseru- Stadium as Nigeria made it two wins on the trot in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying tournament.
The red-hot Lille of France striker set up Alex Iwobi in the 26th minute and Samuel Chukwueze in the 38th minute as Nigeria overturned Masoabi Nkoto’s 11th surprise lead to head into the break on top.
Osimhen added a third for the Super Eagles in the 75th minute and completed his brace 10 minutes later as he got the goals that reflected his virtuoso performance.
Chidozie Awaziem then put through his own goal to put a slight blemish on an otherwise excellent performance by the Super Eagles.
Just like they did against Benin on Day 1 of the qualifying series when they conceded first before rallying to a 2-1 win in Uyo, the Super Eagles conceded first once again after 11 minutes when Nkoto Masoabi rose highest between two defenders to nod powerfully beyond Daniel Akpeyi after the Crocodiles broke on a counter-attack. This was only a minute after Osimhen had rattled goalkeeper Moerane Sekhoane with a stinging shot from outside the area.
In the 17th minute, William Ekong’s flying free kick from 24 yards was parried by Sekhoane, and nine minutes later, Alex Iwobi brought Nigeria level following hard work by Victor Osimhen. The former U17 World Cup winner saw his pull-out intercepted by a defender, chased the defender, retrieved the ball neatly and passed to Iwobi to drive into the net at the far post.
Five minutes later, Osimhen again rattled the Crocodiles’ goaltender, but in the 36th minute, there was to be no stopping Nigeria as Samuel Chukwueze rose between two taller defenders to nod home a well-weighted pass from Osimhen for the Super Eagles’ second of the evening.
Livewire forward Osimhen still had time for two attempts before half time.
In the second half, Nigeria went all out and after Osimhen had clipped the crossbar and saw another shot parried to safety, the gangling forward slid full length to score Nigeria’s third from a cross by defender Ola Aina in the 74th minute.
Osimhen again worked hard to create a glorious chance for substitute Ahmed Musa in the 80th minute, but the captain inexplicably missed from inside the box.
Fittingly, the Lille of France forward would score a second, latching onto a brilliant pass by substitute Ramon Azeez to poke beyond Sekhoane in the 84th minute to virtually assure of the maximum points.
The goals against Lesotho were Osimhen’s first from open play for the Super Eagles following strikes from the spot against Ukraine and the Benin Republic and takes his tally to four in his last four internationals.
However, defender Chidozie Awaziem enabled a respectable scoreline for the home team when he diverted a pull-out into his own net with Akpeyi wrong-footed and with only two minutes left in regulation time.
With six points and six goals in Group L, the Super Eagles have started this race well and strong. Home matches against Lesotho and Sierra Leone will be completed by trips to Sierra Leone and Benin Republic in the final phase of the qualifying series next year.
Benin moved up to second place on three points after Jodel Dossou’s 28th-minute winner helped the Squirrels earn a 1-0 win over Sierra Leone in the other game in the group.
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